Video of Senator Inhofe's Opening Statement from Yesterday's Hearing on the U.S. Climate Action Partnership Report
February 14, 2007
Posted by Matthew_Dempsey@epw.senate.gov (2:00pm ET)
Now posted- video of Senator Inhofe's opening statement from yesterday's EPW hearing on the U.S. Climate Action Partnership Report. You can read a sampling of news coverage of the hearing below.
Senator lashes firms ' global warming stand
BP America, PG&E Corp. chiefs are called climate change ' profiteers. '
By David Whitney - Bee Washington Bureau
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
The chiefs of two major West Coast energy companies -- BP America, which provides much of the Alaska oil that is refined on the West Coast, and PG&E Corp., parent of California ' s largest utility -- were accused of being global warming "profiteers" Tuesday because they are backing legislation to lower greenhouse gas emissions.
The accusation was delivered at a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing by the panel ' s senior Republican, Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe, who disputes widespread scientific consensus that emissions from the burning of oil and coal are causing the planet to warm.
"Some companies are coming together in an attempt to profit from government intervention where they have failed in the marketplace," Inhofe said. "They are climate profiteers. These companies will gain market share against their competitors while the economy flattens and jobs are sent to China ."
Inhofe ' s comments came at the second in a series of hearings that California Sen. Barbara Boxer, the panel ' s Democratic chairwoman, is holding on global warming in advance of writing legislation to, as she has put it, "save the planet."
The intensifying political rhetoric is a clear indication that the coalition of business and environmental groups that BP and PG&E are part of is rapidly building pressure on Congress to enact legislation.
Others members of the coalition, called the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, include Caterpillar Inc., Duke Energy, DuPont, General Electric, Lehman Brothers, Environmental Defense and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
"You ' ve moved this whole issue into the big leagues now, and you ' ve gotten our attention," Sen. John Warner, R-Va., said of the coalition.
PG&E chief Peter Darbee and Stephen A. Elbert, vice president of BP America, were among the coalition leaders invited by Boxer to testify at Tuesday ' s hearing.
Darbee outlined the coalition ' s plea that Congress enact strict emission caps and establish a program authorizing industries to buy and sell emissions credits as a way of lowering the total volume of carbon dioxide spewed into the atmosphere.
Elbert said energy efficiency already has proved to be a money maker at BP, saying that the company had saved about $1.6 billion from energy investments since 1998 as part of its internal efforts to cut emissions.
But Fred Smith, president of the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute, said that the "cap and trade" policies promoted by the coalition are self-serving.
"The corporations we see baying for a cap and trade program are out to enrich themselves without thought for the poor," Smith said.
"For these people, environmentalism is the opiate of the masses, keeping them quiet by making them think that what ' s bad for them is good for the planet."
Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond, R-Mo., said companies like PG&E Corp. and BP will gain as prices soar for consumers.
"Make no mistake," he said. "Some companies will do just fine."
But Darbee argued that the outcome of the global warming debate will have no impact on PG&E ' s corporate profits, which are regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission.
Asked at the hearing why he has traveled to Washington three times in the last month to argue for global warming legislation, Darbee replied: "Because it is the right thing to do."
As the November election returns rolled in, giving Democrats control of both the House and Senate for the first time in more than a decade, liberals in both bodies moved their iconic fight to halt “global warming” to the top of their legislative agenda.
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) announced even before the new Congress convened that the Environment and Public Works Committee would schedule hearings on global warming and climate change, which she hoped would lead to legislation.
In the wake of this announcement she and her fellow global-warming aficionados openly hoped that Virginia’s Sen. John Warner, who talked of taking over for Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe as the committee’s ranking Republican, would in fact do so. Inhofe, a global-warming skeptic, has almost single-handedly stymied past attempts to stampede the Senate into adopting less-than-well-thought-out solutions to a problem that may or may not exist, and removing him as ranking member would have been a tremendous victory.
The effort failed, however. Warner backed away and Inhofe remains in place and ready to do battle.
Meanwhile, on the House side, Speaker Pelosi (D-Calif.) decided on a different course. She realized that Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) would not, after reclaiming his old post as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, roll over for her or anyone else on the issue and that there would be no replacing him.
So she decided to go around him by creating a new select committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming from which congressional global warmers under the leadership of Massachusetts’s Edward Markey (D) could preach their gospel and demand action. This route won’t completely defang Dingell, but it will certainly weaken him and force him onto the defensive.
Now it’s the House GOP leadership’s turn to get its forces into position for the battles that virtually everyone can see looming just over the horizon. If there is an Inhofe on the House side, it has to be Wisconsin’s James Sensenbrenner Jr., who, term-limited on the House Judiciary Committee, tried unsuccessfully to return to the Science Committee as ranking member and is now seeking the ranking slot on the new select committee.
As chairman of the Science Committee back in 1998, Sensenbrenner led a delegation of skeptics to the Kyoto conference and fought then-President Clinton’s attempt to go along with the Kyoto protocols without seeking ratification of the treaty itself. In the process he became quite an expert on the science relied upon by the global-warming lobby.
In the ’70s, scientists believed we were on the verge of a new ice age; some still believe this to be true. Now we are told constantly not only that they were wrong then and that the earth is warming up, but that it is doing so because of us, our cars, our economic system and the unregulated way we insist on living our lives.
The threat to the planet is taken as a given by the politically correct here and internationally and there is a massive international effort to silence skeptics. In this country Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) have gone so far as to threaten corporations that provide funding to groups that dispute the legitimacy of the science worshipped by the global warmers with punitive action if they don’t stop doing so. Skeptics are no longer just skeptics but “deniers,” and are considered war criminals by many liberals in the battle to save the earth. Like the folks who would suspend civil liberties to fight terrorism, they are prepared to do “whatever it takes” to pursue their war against those who, in their opinion, are enemies of nature.
Many scientists believe that if the earth is warming, it is far more likely to be doing so as part of a 1500-year cycle that predates our arrival and the arrival of the first Toyota. These scientists don’t deny the possibility that human activity has and is continuing to contribute to whatever long-term changes might be taking place, but argue that junking our cars, appliances and freedom won’t do much to change things.
Sensenbrenner, like Inhofe in the Senate, understands the science — and like both Inhofe and Dingell, he won’t be rolled. His colleagues often find him a bit prickly, but they admire his intelligence, his skills, his ability to master data and his willingness to fight.
Those are just the qualities they are going to need as this fight heats up.